The Most Underrated Paranormal Horrors of the 1960s, Ranked
Yes, Gen Z-ers, there was a life in the '60s. And the cinema was, perhaps surprisingly, good enough.
10. "Kwaidan" (1964)
The Japanese and their uncanny knack for horror. This film is an anthology of four separate stories, each eerier than the last.
We've got a samurai who leaves his wife only to encounter her ghost, a snow spirit who spares a young woodcutter, a blind monk serenaded by a spectral court, and a samurai haunted by a spirit in his cup of tea. Yeah, you read that last one right! And yet, the way the story unfolds is something to behold.
Despite its chilling vibes, "Kwaidan" didn't rake in huge bucks, but it's worth a watch.
9. "The Curse of the Werewolf" (1961)
Hailing from Spain? Fancy a werewolf tale? Oliver Reed plays a cursed man named Leon, born on Christmas Day to a mute servant girl. As the plot thickens, poor Leon struggles with his inner lycanthropic tendencies, which get activated by – wait for it – the full moon and love.
If you ever wonder what life as a cursed werewolf is like in the sunny streets of Spain, give this film a whirl. Surprisingly, this wasn't a major hit, which I reckon is a shame.
8. "City of the Dead" (1960)
Let's travel to Massachusetts. A young college student named Nan visits the town of Whitewood to research witchcraft, only to discover it's, quite literally, a hub for witches. These witches aren't looking to just cast harmless spells – they want sacrifices for eternal life! It's a bit like checking into a dodgy hotel where you realize too late the other guests are a tad... witchy.
You'd think a town full of dark secrets would be a surefire hit, but this one slipped under many a radar.
7. "The Innocents" (1961)
Ever been a governess? Miss Giddens becomes one for two orphaned children at a sprawling English estate. However, things get weird (as they often do in massive estates). She becomes convinced the estate is haunted by the spirits of the former governess and her lover, and what's more, they're possessing the kids. The question looms: is she right, or is she losing her grip on reality?
Despite its gripping plot, it didn't dominate the box office – but it should've.
6. "Black Sunday" (1960)
So, a witch named Asa Vajda is put to death by her brother in Moldavia, only to swear revenge. Fast forward two centuries later, when two doctors happen upon her tomb, inadvertently resurrecting her. As she returns, she's hungry for revenge and out for the blood of her lookalike descendant.
Classic family feud, am I right? Despite its chilling backdrop and spooky revenge plot, this one didn't exactly set the theaters on fire.
5. "Carnival of Souls" (1962)
Mary survives a car accident and decides to start afresh as a church organist in Utah. But fresh starts aren't easy, especially when you're being stalked by a creepy, pale-faced man and drawn to an abandoned carnival. The eerie organ music, the desolate pavilion, and that persistent ghoulish man – it's unsettling to the core.
For all its eeriness, this one didn't quite make the big leagues in its time.
4. "The Haunting" (1963)
Not all haunted house tales are made equal. Dr. Markway, an investigator of the supernatural, gathers a group to explore Hill House – a place with a dark history of death and insanity. As they spend nights there, terrifying events unfold, targeting the vulnerable Eleanor. Walls seem to come alive, cold spots appear, and let's not get started on the mysterious banging sounds.
It's a mystery why this wasn't an instant classic back then.
3. "The Witch's Mirror" (1962)
Sarah, a kind witch, predicts the death of her adopted daughter Elena's husband at the hands of another woman. Guess what? She's spot on! After the prediction comes true, Sarah uses her magical mirror to exact revenge on the murderer, leading to some bizarre and terrifying events, including a series of supernatural deaths.
You'd think a witch with a vendetta would be a sell-out, but this film stayed relatively low key.
2. "Eyes Without a Face" (1960)
After a car accident disfigures his daughter's face, a desperate doctor kidnaps young women to graft their faces onto his daughter's. Sounds pretty horrifying, right? But also, it's strangely poetic and deeply sad.
This French film masterfully mixes the macabre with the melancholic. For such a unique plot, it's baffling how it remained so overshadowed.
1. "The House That Screamed" (1969)
Set in an all-girls boarding school in France, there's a dark undertone from the very beginning. Headmistress Señora Fourneau is a strict disciplinarian and keeps a tight leash on her students, all while sheltering her teenage son, Luis, from them.
But here's where things get twisted: girls start disappearing from the school without a trace. It's not just the creaky wooden floors and ancient architecture that gives this place an eerie vibe; something truly sinister is at play. Who's behind the string of disappearances? Is it the overprotective Señora, the sheltered Luis, or something even more sinister?
For a movie that combines the grim ambience of an old mansion with mysterious vanishings, it's surprising this didn't make bigger waves when it first hit the screens.